The latest fad in racing is to run the feature race as the last race of the meeting, an endeavour which has generally been accepted.
However, there comes a time where common sense should be employed – and I think it’s missing on Friday night at Moonee Valley.
The Moir Stakes, a fascinating race featuring the likes of Buffering, Bel Sprinter, Snitzerland, Moment of Change and Epaulette being run at Group 1 level for the first time on Friday night, is the last race on the Moonee Valley card and will be run at 10pm.
That’s right, a Group 1 race is being run at 10pm! Are they serious?
Running a Group 1 race at 10pm at night seems to be sheer lunacy. You want your feature race to be at the prime time for the majority of your audience, and I’m not sure how this could be the case with the Moir Stakes.
When it’s a day meeting, the last race of the card has many positives and only a few drawbacks.
Having experienced Caulfield a few weeks ago, when the Memsie Stakes was the last race on the card, I found it to be an apt way to finish a raceday.
The atmosphere was electric, and although it did seem a bit flat when there was nothing to follow the Memsie, I still felt it was a success.
I was then able to experience the last race phenomenon as an at-home punter with the running of the Underwood Stakes last Saturday.
I actually found it less comfortable off-course, as it feels like there should be more to the day beyond the feature race.
This is most likely an effect of conditioning – we’re used to the feature race being followed by lesser races, and so it feels uncomfortable when that’s not the case.
Still, though, it seemed successful – everything built up to the feature, and the Underwood Stakes was a fitting finale to what was in effect a spring preview card.
The common theme between the Memsie and the Underwood, apart from the obvious fact that both are run at Caulfield, was that the last race fit perfectly into an afternoon. Audiences were optimised, and it was at a perfect time to suit both the racing fan and the casual gambler.
I can’t see how that’s the case at 10pm on a Friday night. Many racing fans will be otherwise occupied – watching other sports, heading out on the town, simply using the chance to unwind after a tough week.
It’s not overly late, but it is late enough to suggest that it will impact on viewers. And really, at this time of year, we should be encouraging every viewer we can get!
The other problem with not running the race at the perfect time to suit the audience, from a wagering perspective, is turnover.
As much as non-punters would like to think otherwise, turnover drives the industry and is a crucial factor in race programming.
Turnover figures will tell the story, and it wouldn’t surprise to see a drop in turnover based on the same race last year.
What do you think? Will you be watching the Moir Stakes at 10pm, or do you have better things to do on a Friday night?
It started as 124 first acceptances, it now lays at 35. With the capacity field size being 24, 11 unlucky horses will drop out of the contention for the 2021 Melbourne Cup on Saturday evening. This year’s race shapes up to be a fascinating edition of the race that stops the nation with dominate Caufield […]